Bishop’s Notes – December 15, 2008

Dear Colleagues,

I know this is a very busy time of the year for pastors, so my Bishop’s Notes today will be brief.

Several weeks back, Joe Manafo (FM church planter at theStory in Sarnia, ON) sent a note out on Listserv telling us that he had just completed a documentary film on the topic of new and evolving forms of church in Canada, entitled “One Size Fits All?”  Because I have real respect for Joe and his capacity to reflect thoughtfully on the mission of the church and its responsibility to incarnate Jesus into the neighbourhoods of our nation, I ordered a copy of the DVD.

I’ve just finished viewing the documentary and want to recommend it to you.  Its thesis is that since the church is now on the fringe of Canadian culture, what do we do to faithfully follow Jesus and represent Him well as we incarnate His presence into the neighbourhoods?  It tells stories of people who are thinking like missionaries to Canadian culture, who are wrestling with questions about how far to go into the world and not compromise the message by making faith fashionable for the masses.

The film tells the stories of experiments that are presently taking place in various contexts from Cape Breton in the east to Vancouver in the west.  The tone of the presentation is not edgy but respectful.  For those who have trouble hearing what anyone who wears tattoos is saying, I would recommend that you close your eyes and just listen to the heart of these young men and women who are passionate about following Jesus and seeing people reached with the gospel.

One of the quotes in the video says, “Somewhere in the genesis and genius of these diverse groups is hidden the future of Western Christianity – to dismiss them is to throw away the seeds of our survival” (Gerard Kelly).  I think that he is right and I think that these men and women who are experimenting with approaches (but not with the message) deserve a respectful hearing.  Another quote to watch for is: “Tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.”

If you decide to listen to the video, let me suggest a couple of things.  First, listen in humility to what the Holy Spirit is saying through these brothers and sisters who are wrestling with how to reach Canadians.  Secondly, listen to their attitudes toward the faith tradition.  As one of them puts it, they are on a search to rediscover the richness of the Christian tradition plus understand what is current in culture plus create something that is original and somehow “mush” it together to have a Kingdom presence in a way that is sustainable for the long term.

If you are interested in more information on the “One Size Fits All?” documentary, you can find it at

I’ll quit here as this can no longer be called “brief.”  My plan is to have a Christmas story for you next week, so stay tuned. 

Have a great week serving Jesus.
Bishop Keith